Show Number One: Bruce Springsteen in Albany

I’m not sure how it took me this long to see him, but it did and it was fully worth the wait. Bruce Springsteen puts on an amazing show, has incredible showmanship and presence on stage, and even played some wildcard audience requests look like they were part of the plan for the night. This was  far from a greatest hits show and I found a few new favorite songs throughout the night. Here’s my take away from my first Bruce Springsteen show, at The Times Union Center in Albany on May 13th.

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  • The crowd was comprised of everyone from little kids to grandparents, and everyone in between. Bruce spans all generations.
  • “Don’t Change” and “My Love will not Let You Down” were a good 1-2 punch of to open the show. Never heard either before, let alone expected an INXS cover to start a Bruce show.
  • Tom Morello on guitar was a treat. Didn’t know he would be playing with Bruce, let alone that Little Steven wasn’t playing. Fair trade for me.

  • “Death to my Hometown” was tribal as fuck.
  • I couldn’t tell if it was a standard show, or if there were bustouts. It didn’t matter either way. This show wasn’t defined by the setlist.
  • The audience interaction could have gotten old fast, and usually it does. Bruce is WAY more patient with the audience and the audience doesn’t seem to be pushy when it comes to getting him things to read or signs for songs they want to hear. Good band-audience relationship.
  • Reading a Mother’s Day card, then dancing with the mom in question was pretty cool. Your Mother’s Day gift is weak by comparison.
  • “Better Days” – new favorite tune. “Seaside Bar Song” and “Meet me at Mary’s Place” as well.
  • When an audience member requests “Stayin’ Alive”, it seemed like it wouldn’t happen. Then Bruce throws on the acoustic and this happens. “Stayin’ Alive” is one helluva a song when Bruce plays it. Stripped of Disco!

  • Seriously 17 band members? Glenn Miller Orchestra I saw last week had 19. But the sound for Bruce was worth it, just surprised to see 17 on stage.
  • “Shackled and Drawn” – HUGE song. Love this song, the Celtic-ness to it, although a bass line here would have been perfect. Good choreography as well.
  • “The Ghost of Tom Joad” – I imagine Pete Seeger looks down from heaven and smiles whenever Bruce plays this one. Major highlight for me.
  • I joked before the show with a few friends that I hope he plays “Born in the U.S.A.”, which was likely my first Bruce song growing up in the early 80s. I was pretty shocked to hear it, thinking it was a song he shelved for a long time.
  • “Born to Run”! Born->Born.

  • The crowd hung on every song and knew them all. Energetic and focused and not there just for the party – they wanted to hang on every note. Reminds me of Pearl Jam and Phish crowds.
  • Bruce’s intro for the E Street Band – never heard that before and damn it’s a good one.
  • Jake Clemons, Clarence Clemons nephew, has filled some very big shoes, and the tribute on the screen during intros was very touching.
  • The whole ‘not leaving the stage for an encore’ is confusing when most bands I see do that. Explains why the lights came on around 1030, if not earlier.
  • Russ Lawton looks like a young max Weinberg.

Sure, there were some songs I wish I heard – “Growing Up”, “Because the Night”, “Atlantic City” and “Rosalita” – but I’m not disappointed I didn’t see them. It just means I need to go and see him more and more, chasing those tunes. What an amazing first show!

Check out Bruce’s Notes from the Road